A Brief History of Madrid

Madrid is one of Europe’s most historically rich cities. Its documented history traces back to the ninth century, but the area in fact has been inhabited by humans since prehistoric times.

 History of Madrid Highlights

  • The area now known as Madrid was inhabited by prehistoric humans
  • Originally named Mayrit, the city of Madrid was founded by the emir Muhammad at the close of the ninth century A.D. 
  • The present location of Madrid—in Spain’s center—was established in 1083 by King Alfonso I 
  • In 1329, King Fernando V assembled the famed Court of Madrid for the first time ever
  • In the 14th and 15th centuries Moors and Jews banded together in Moreria
  • In 1494 they were all denounced as “unbelievers” and expelled from Spain
  • On May 2nd, 1808, a revolt began in the Puerta de Sol—thus beginning the War of Independence
  • In 1835, the world-famous University of Alcala de Henares was transferred to Madrid

The History of Madrid: A Journey Through Time

Discover the fascinating history of Madrid, one of Europe’s most historically rich cities, as we explore its origins, significant events, and evolution into the vibrant capital of Spain.

Prehistoric Inhabitants: Madrid’s Earliest Residents

Madrid’s history extends far beyond its documented beginnings in the ninth century. Evidence of prehistoric human habitation has been unearthed along the banks of the River Manzanares, including ancient tools like axes and remains of large mammals.

Mayrit: The Founding of Madrid

At the end of the ninth century A.D., Emir Muhammad founded the city now known as Madrid and originally named Mayrit. The city flourished during the Arab occupation of the Iberian peninsula, but later fell into Christian hands during the Reconquest of Spain.

Madrid’s Central Location: The Vision of King Alfonso I

In 1083, King Alfonso I recognized Madrid’s strategic potential and established it in the center of Spain. This marked the beginning of the city’s transformation, as symbols of Muslim influence were systematically removed.

The First Court of Madrid: King Fernando V’s Legacy

In 1329, King Fernando V assembled the renowned Court of Madrid, paving the way for a darker chapter in Spanish history – the Spanish Inquisition.

Moreria: A Haven for Moors and Jews

Following the Reconquista, Moors and Jews formed a concentrated community in Madrid, known as Moreria. However, in 1494, they were denounced as “unbelievers” and expelled from Spain, leading to the destruction of their mosques and cultural symbols.

The War of Independence: Madrid’s Struggle for Freedom

On May 2nd, 1808, the people of Madrid revolted at the Puerta del Sol, sparking the War of Independence. This large-scale conflict saw the Spanish battling against Napoleon and their former French allies. Madrid’s numerous patriotic memorials, including the iconic Plaza Dos de Mayo, serve as a testament to this tumultuous period.

The Birth of Universidad Complutense de Madrid

In 1835, the prestigious University of Alcala de Henares relocated to Madrid and expanded its offerings with the addition of a Faculty of Science. The institution became known as the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), which remains a renowned center of higher education today.

Modern Madrid: A City Transformed

After centuries of historical upheaval, Madrid has emerged as one of Europe’s most progressive, modern, and beautiful cities. With a thriving arts scene, bustling nightlife, and an ever-present nod to its rich history, Madrid is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking to experience the best of European culture.

In conclusion, the history of Madrid is a captivating tale of human resilience, cultural exchange, and transformation. From its prehistoric roots to its status as a modern European capital, Madrid stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of its people and the power of reinvention.